18 Fun Facts About Latvia To Add To Your Bucket List

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Latvia is a stunning European country, with miles of pristine beaches and lush forests begging to be explored.

The more fun facts I learn about Latvia, the more I’ve been dying to visit. Once you read these Latvia facts, you’ll definitely want to join me!

1. Latvia Has Europe’s Tallest Women

The average height of Latvian women trumps every other nation on earth according to this recent study. Latvian women average 170 centimeters, or 5ft, 7inches tall.

Latvian men did not quite measure up – Dutch men are the tallest men on average.

2. Latvia Invented Jeans

Arguably my favorite pants, jeans are a gift to my closet, and to the world. But how were they invented?

Jacob W. Davis was a Riga-born man who moved to Reno, Nevada in 1854. A customer asked the tailor to make a sturdy pair of pants for her husband who was a woodcutter.

He took to the task with gusto and created the first-ever pair of jeans which became wildly popular. He later approached Levi Strauss who was his fabric supplier and asked for financial backing to expand production.

The jeans were patented under their partnership. The signature of Levi Strauss jeans was the orange thread seam, which you can still see today.

3. It’s Home Of The First Christmas Tree

This is a matter of debate, but Latvians claim that the first ever decorated Christmas tree placed in public happened in Latvia in the year 1510, in the city of Riga. However, Tallinn, Estonia claims the same but says their tree was placed in 1441.

Luckily for Latvians, history recorded the placement of their Christmas tree, so an official record exists lending weight to their argument.

Another fun Christmas tree-related fact is that each Latvian household is allowed to chop down a single pine tree from the forest to use as a Christmas tree.

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4. Oldest European Languages

Latvian is one of the oldest languages in Europe and many aspects of its historical linguistic roots have been preserved for over 5,000 years.

5. Famous for Art Nouveau Architecture

A third of all architecture in Riga is Art Nouveau and there is a higher concentration of this style of architecture in Riga than anywhere else in Europe!

Art Nouveau Architecture buildings in Latvia

Considered the father of Art Nouveau, Mikhail Eisenstein designed many decorative elements for Riga, which have adorned the more than 800 Art Nouveau-style buildings in across the city.

6. One of the Highest Rates of Fashion Models Worldwide

There are more high fashion models in Latvia per capita than in most other countries on earth. Only Estonia, Lithuania, and Denmark score higher.

7. 20 Hours of Sunshine in Summer

The longest days in Summer have over 20 hours of sunshine. Locals love to party into the wee hours, often relaxing with friends in nature.

Called Jāņi or Liigo, people celebrate by staying up until the dawn of the next day. They enjoy singing songs, lighting bonfires and wearing flower crowns.

8. Fine White Sand Coastline

Latvia has nearly 500 kilometers of coastline with many stunning beaches. The white sand beaches of Latvia have especially fine, powder-soft sand.

Be careful of sand sticking to you because you may end up with an unintentional sandcastle in your car when you leave!

9. High Environmental Performance

Latvia cares deeply about the natural environment – nearly 20 percent of the country is protected. There are 260 nature reserves and 42 nature parks in Latvia, along with 7 marine areas that are protected, and a biosphere reserve.

Latvia was number one in the world in 2012, according to the Environmental Performance Index, and has continued to rank highly for its green practices. Latvia currently ranks 15 in the world according to the EPI.

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10. Widest Waterfall in Europe

The widest waterfall in Europe can be found in Latvia. The Venta Rapid or Ventas Rumba is 249 meters wide (816 feet) and can be found in Kuldiga.

Kuldiga waterfall, known as either the Venta Rapid or Ventas Rumba

This waterfall is rather short, and at certain times of the year, spawning fish will try to jump up the falls.

11. Women’s Basketball is Big in Latvia

Women’s basketball is popular in Latvia, and one of the most watched sports. Latvian athletes are celebrated regardless of gender, and Uljiana Semjonova is one of the country’s most popular athletes.

Uljiana Semjonova was the first non-American woman to be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. She was voted the most popular athlete in the country 12 times!

She was also the 7th tallest woman in the world, standing 6 feet, 11 inches tall.

12. You Can Buy Medicinal Liquor

Riga Black Balsam is a popular liquor that is aged in oak barrels and has over 24 different plant components in it. It’s considered an awesome cold remedy and gained a renowned reputation when it reportedly cured Catherine the Great, who drank it after falling ill while visiting Latvia.

13. You Can Become a Prison Inmate by Choice

If you ever wanted to go to jail and see what it’s like to be a prisoner, you can sign up to spend a night in a former military prison in Karosta.

a former military prison in Karosta

The Karosta Prison Hotel was once a real prison, and those interested in visiting can sign up for a full prisoner experience which means spending a night in an ice-cold cell while being bullied and harassed.

Waivers are, of course, required to be signed prior to admittance, and punishments for disobedience are cleaning and exercise.

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14. Shouting and Whistling are Rude

It is considered outrageously rude to shout or whistle in Latvia. In general, emotions are not meant to be openly displayed in public. Public places include areas of transportation, roads, shops, and restaurants.

Public singing, however, is tolerated.

15. Latvians Enjoy Foraging in the Forest

Foraging is big in Latvia. Much of the country is covered in lush forest and at certain times of year, the forest provides delicious mushrooms and herbs.

Latvian people are happy to go foraging through the forest to obtain not only food but medicinal herbs as a matter of tradition.

16. Rye Bread Superstitions

Rye bread is eaten and enjoyed everywhere in Latvia. The most popular rye bread variety is Rupjmaize, a bread that is considered holy.

Rye bread is such an important part of Latvian food culture that superstitions have become common. If a loaf of rye bread is dropped, it must be picked up at once and kissed!

Breadcrumbs from Rye bread should never be brushed onto the floor – they should always be brushed into a hand. They believe to do otherwise results in crop failure.

17. Inventor of Pringles

Another reason to praise Latvian ingenuity – Pringles.

The inventor of Pringles is Aleksandrs Liepa from Latvia who not only dreamt up the iconic snack but invented the machine that allowed them to be mass-produced.

My cupboard would be sad without Pringles.

18. Latvia is home to Middle Earth and Ogre

If you’re a fan of fantasy fiction, you may be surprised that Latvia is home to a region called Vidzeme which roughly translated means Middle Earth. There is also a town named Ogre.

A Latvian castle and countryside

It’s worth a visit just to take photos in front of the signs!


Christina loves to travel and recently moved from America to Austria to experience everything Europe has to offer. Her passion for travel is rivaled only by her love of writing. Armed with her English degree, she funds her travels writing for several websites including MyCountryFacts!

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